Debora B. Alsup

Debora B. Alsup

  • 512.469.6114
    512.482.5028
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Of Counsel

  • Thompson & Knight LLP
    98 San Jacinto Boulevard
    Suite 1900
    Austin, TX 78701 USA
    512.469.6114
    512.482.5028
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Debbie Alsup has practiced appellate law for 35 years, providing comprehensive state and federal appellate representation. She has participated in more than 100 appellate cases and represented clients at the U.S. Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit, the Federal Circuit, the Texas Supreme Court, all fourteen Texas Courts of Appeal, and numerous state and federal district courts. Debbie has significant trial court representation experience, including developing and arguing strategic legal motions, structuring jury charges, and preparing post-judgment motions. She also consults with clients and trial counsel in analyzing potential appellate complaints and in preserving the trial record for mandamus and/or appeal.

Debbie has been Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1990. She has been recognized by numerous legal directories for her appellate work, including The Best Lawyers in America®, Texas Super Lawyers®, and Benchmark: Litigation. Debbie has been named one of the Top 50 Female (2014-2017) and Top 50 Central/West Texas (2014-2018) Super Lawyers®.

Experience

  • Represented Rubber Manufacturer’s Association as amicus in successful determination of applicability of South Carolina trade secret statute.  Hartsock v. Goodyear Dunlop Tires N. Am. Ltd., 723 Fed. App’x 225 (4th Cir. 2018)

  • Favorable ruling from El Paso Court of Appeals interpreting oil and gas deed involving conflicting fractions between mineral and royalty interests. Greer v. Shook, 503 S.W.3d 571 (Tex. App. – El Paso 2016, pet. pending) 

  • Successful decision from the Texas Supreme  Court overturning millions of dollars in charges against three railway companies under the City of Houston's drainage ordinance. Supreme Court held that even where a governmental official has some discretion to act, an ultra-vires claim can be made if the official acted outside of any discretion granted.  Houston Belt & Terminal Railway. Co. v. City of Houston, 487 S.W.3d 154 (Tex. 2016)

  • Decertified securities class action claiming that Brigham was undervalued in its $4.4 billion acquisition by Statoil.  Austin Court of Appeals reversed and remanded certification order for second time, finding that due to extensive trading of Brigham shares, the class definition includes former shareholders that have no standing.  Brigham Expl. Co. v. Boytim, No. 03-15-00248-CV, 2016 WL 3390287 (Tex. App. – Austin June 15, 2016, no pet.) (mem. op.)

  • Emergency appeal to protect Michelin’s confidential design drawings, testing, inspection documents, and adjustment data. Dallas Court of Appeals held that documents were protected by the trade secret privilege. Medina v. Michelin N. Am., Inc., No. 05-15-01480-CV, 2016 WL 890970, (Tex. App. — Dallas Mar. 9, 2016, orig. proceeding) (mem. op.) 

  • Successful emergency appeal to prevent videotaping by opposing party’s expert of tire building processes.  Houston Court of Appeals found inspection would be would be impermissible entry on land under Tex. R. Civ. P. 196.7.  Kilpatrick, v. Michelin N. Am., Inc., No. 14-15-00578-CV, 2015 WL 7456101 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Nov. 24, 2015, orig. proceeding) (mem. op.)

  • Prevailed at Texas Supreme Court in request to transfer and consolidate over one hundred individual oil and gas suits into multidistrict litigation.  In Re Chesapeake Barnett Royalty Litig., No. 15-0113 (Tex. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, April 2015)

  • Decertified a class action based on legally deficient trial plan where a group of Brigham Exploration Co. shareholders alleged that the company was undervalued in a multi-billion dollar acquisition.  Brigham Exploration Co. v. Boytim, No. 03-13-00191-CV, 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 9068 (Tex. App.—Austin Aug. 15, 2014, no pet.) (mem. op.)

  • Reversed and rendered a multi-million dollar judgment against insurance broker clients in a case involving two jury trials, four decisions from the Houston Court of Appeals, and two petitions for review to the Texas Supreme Court.  Guidry v. Environmental Procedures, Inc., 388 S.W.3d 845 (Tex. App. – Houston [14th Dist.] 2012, pet. denied.)

  • Reversed and remanded criminal pollution charges in State v. Bell and Simon Property, 366 S.W.3d 712 (Tex.Crim.App. 2012) based on alleged unauthorized discharge of wastewater by a pressure-washing subcontractor at the Houston Galleria’s underground parking garages.  The Court of Criminal Appeals found that a property-based analysis of the Fourth Amendment was more useful than an expectation-of-privacy approach and reversed and remanded for reconsideration by the court of appeals.

  • Represented a global pharmaceutical company, along with national counsel, and prepared strategic motions and jury charges in large docket of state and federal cases alleging cancer from hormone therapy drugs.

  • Affirmed a take-nothing judgment in favor of BNSF Railway in Zavala v. BNSF Railway Company, 355 S.W.3d 359 (Tex.App.-El Paso 2011, no. pet.).  The Court found that negligence and premises liability claims were dependent upon the viability of the products liability claim, which was not viable for failure to properly identify the product.

  • Counsel in appeal that Daubert/Havner criteria can be included as part of jury instructions; Faust v. BNSF Railway Company, 337 S.W.3d 325 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2011, pet. denied).

  • Represented oil & gas operator in appeal affirming inapplicability of proportionate responsibility statute for express warranty about oil field drilling equipment; Cressman Tubular Prods. Corp. v. Kurt Wiseman Oil & Gas, Ltd., 322 S.W.3d 453 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2010, pet. denied).
  • Obtained appellate decision affirming judgment and ruling that Plaintiffs presented no evidence to justify investigation of jury misconduct during lengthy toxic tort trial; Davis v. BNSF Railway Company, 2010 WL 3943838 (Tex. App.—Waco 2010, pet. denied).
  • Obtained emergency appeal disqualifying opposing counsel under lawyer witness rule in multi-million dollar suit for alleged improper placement of surplus lines insurance; In re Guidry, 316 S.W.3d 729 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2010, orig. proceeding).

  • Coordinated planning and strategy for eight-lawyer defense team with two firms in large toxic tort docket of more than 200 cases defending BNSF Railway Company from claims that town was contaminated and residents contracted cancer from exposure to chemicals from tie treatment plant. Prepared and argued expert exclusion motions, dispositive motions, emergency appeals, jury charges, and post-judgment motions. Obtained defense verdict with trial team in two-month trial in Davis v. BNSF Railway Company, 21st Dist. Ct., Burleson County, Texas, July 2, 2009; week-long trial in Reliford v. BNSF Railway Company, No. 96-203110-03, 96th Dist. Ct., Tarrant County, Texas, August 24, 2009; and six-week trial in Faust v. BNSF Railway Company, 96th Dist. Ct., Tarrant County, Texas, March 5, 2008.

  • Represented Washington Mutual Bank in borrower suit to overturn $2 million judgment for negligent misrepresentation based on inaccurate pay-off statement; Washington Mut. Bank v. Houston Windcrest West Road I, L.P., 262 S.W.3d 856 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2008, pet. denied).
  • Retained by national tire manufacturers for strategic trial motions and emergency appeals; companies include Bridgestone/Firestone, Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America, Continental Tire North America, Compagnie Generale des Etablissements Michelin, Societa Per Azioni Michelin Italiana, Pirelli Tire, and amicus curiae representation for the Rubber Manufacturers Association.

  • Obtained significant Texas Supreme Court decision which allowed challenges to forum non conveniens to be brought by mandamus rather than ordinary appeal, in suit for accident in Mexico which was improperly brought in Texas; In re Pirelli Tire, L.L.C., 247 S.W.3d 670 (Tex. 2007).

  • Represented railroad in class action claiming that a special distribution to shareholders caused a worldwide class of nearly one million shareholders to overpay their income taxes. Appellate court agreed with railroad's position that proof of damages is an individualized inquiry and would make a class action unmanageable. Ridgeway v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., 205 S.W.3d 577 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2006, pet. denied).

  • Defended Wachovia Bank in a multi-million dollar appeal for breach of contract and conversion for post-closing destruction of loan documentation in investment fund. Wells Fargo Bank Minnesota, N.A. and ORIX Capital Markets, L.L.C. v. Wachovia Bank, N.A., 196 F. App'x 246 (5th Cir. 2006).

  • Prevailed on patent infringement issue challenging standing to sue at the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals; Aspex Eyewear, Inc. v. E'Lite Optik, Inc., 127 F. App'x 493 (Fed. Cir. 2005).

  • Appeal of an excessive guardian ad litem fee award in a case that resulted in changes in Texas procedural rules for service of, and payment to, guardians ad litem appointed to represent minors in Texas; Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America, Ltd. v. Gamez, 151 S.W.3d 574 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2004, no pet.).

  • Co-counsel in case clarifying scope of Texas trade secret protection; In re Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 106 S.W.3d 730 (Tex. 2003).

  • Represented mall owner in defending a constitutional challenge to free speech and property rights; Oficina Legal del Pueblo Unido, Inc. v. Simon Property Group TX, L.P., 2001 Tex. App. Lexis 4968 (Tex.App.—Austin July 26, 2001, no pet.).

  • Represented three pipeline companies to invalidate municipal franchise fees as trespass damages; City of Lubbock v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 41 S.W.3d 149 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 2000, no pet.).

  • Prevailed in U.S. Supreme Court on determination of accrual date of RICO cause of action for statute of limitations, resolving split among federal circuits; Rotella v. Wood, 120 S. Ct. 1075 (2000).

  • Represented the State of Texas in obtaining a reversal of a $23 million verdict for a constitutional challenge to the auto emissions testing program; State v. Operating Contractors, 985 S.W.2d 646 (Tex. App.—Austin 1999, pet. denied).

  • Excluded a clinical medical expert under Daubert factors in a leading en banc decision; Moore v. Ashland Chemical, Inc., 151 F.3d 269 (5th Cir. 1998) (en banc), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1064 (1999).

Prior Experience

  • Briefing attorney to Chief Justice Joe R. Greenhill, Texas Supreme Court, 1982

Distinctions/Honors

  • The Best Lawyers in America® by Woodward/White Inc. (Appellate Practice, Commercial Litigation); 2008-2019
  • Top 50 Female Attorneys in Texas, Texas Super Lawyers® by Thomson Reuters; 2015-2018
  • Top 50 Central/West Texas Lawyers, Texas Super Lawyers® by Thomson Reuters; 2014-2018
  • Texas Super Lawyers® by Thomson Reuters (Appellate, Civil Litigation Defense); 2006-2018
  • "Future Star – Texas," Benchmark Appellate: The Definitive Guide to America's Leading Appellate Firms & Attorneys; 2016
  • "Fifth Circuit Litigation Star," Benchmark Appellate: The Definitive Guide to America's Leading Appellate Firms & Attorneys; 2012-2013
  • 2011 "Winning Women" Honoree, Texas Lawyer

Activities (Memberships/Affiliations)

Bar

  • Member, College of the State Bar of Texas

  • Member, American Bar Association; Litigation Section; Appellate Section

  • Member, State Bar of Texas; Litigation Section; Appellate Section; Special Assistant Disciplinary Counsel to the Judicial Conduct Commission

  • Member, Austin Bar Association; Co-Founder, Civil Appellate Law Section

  • Member, National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel

Volunteer

  • Member and Secretary, Texas CASA Board of Directors, 2016-2019

  • Helping Hand Home for Children, residential treatment center for severely abused children, ages 6-12; Board of Directors; Legal Counsel, 2011-present